Garrett Murray, a well-known iOS designer/developer, thinks the new Amazon Coins system is “a terrible idea for consumers” that could potentially cost them money down the road.
Amazon Coins, launched Monday, let customers buy apps, games and in-app items from the Amazon Appstore and on their Kindle Fire tablets. Amazon has given 500 free coins (worth $5) to all Kindle Fire customers in the US.
Murray, who has designed apps for Google, Yelp, and Condé Nast, says Amazon Coins are geared toward tricking customers into thinking they’re saving money on online content when they’re actually paying more. He sees these systems as unnecessary.
“We already have money, it’s called money,” Murray wrote in a blog post.
In its terms of service, Amazon says each coin is worth $0.01 when making purchases through the Amazon Appstore. Coins don’t expire, and there’s no service charge.
But Murray says there’s nothing in the terms that says Amazon won’t devalue Coins in the future.
“You could purchase 10,000 coins today and they’re worth $100 USD, but there’s no guarantee they aren’t going to be worth $80 next year,” Murray wrote in the blog post.
Customers get a discount when buying Coins in bulk: Amazon is currently offering a 500-Coin lot for $4.80 (a 4 per cent discount); a 2500-Coin lot for $23 (an 8 per cent discount; and a 5,000-Coin lot for $45 (a 10 per cent discount.
So far Amazon Coins are receiving mixed reviews from Amazon customers, some of whom are echoing Murray’s concerns. “Why should I use coins while I can purchase things with real money?” asked user B. Gul in the comments page for Amazon Coins.
We’ve reached out to Amazon for comment.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
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